SALT LAKE CITY — Videos uncovered in an investigation by the Utah Office of the Attorney General provide evidence that saved the Social Security Administration $22 million in prevented fraud in 2012.
At first, video of a 40-year old playing air guitar, wrapped in tinfoil and rocking out to music will probably make you laugh and cringe — until you realize the man has been collecting thousands of dollars in Social Security disability benefits from the government.
He claimed his sore muscles don't allow him to work or leave his house, but the video he posted to YouTube shows otherwise.
"One of the most shocking things is the audacity of some of the people who are stealing from you and I," said Ken Wallentine, the chief of law enforcement for the Utah Office of the Attorney General.
In the past year, investigators with the Utah AG's office and the Social Security Administration have looked into 368 allegations of fraud. Of those claims, the SSA denied 157 of them.
"This is government at its best, protecting the interests of taxpayers," Wallentine said.
The AG's office shared other videos from their investigation with KSL.
A 31-year-old female had been getting benefits for four years because she claimed her mental disorders gave her low energy, therefore she couldn't be in public to work. Investigators recorded her playing drums at one of her frequent rock concerts, however.
In another video, investigators recorded a 37-year-old man picking up his baby, driving his truck and walking seemingly without any problems.
"One of the most shocking things is the audacity of some of the people who are stealing from you and I."
That man filed for social security disability, though, claiming he couldn't work because of a broken heel bone, immobile ankle and chronic pain. He tried to run when investigators started asking him questions.
"They feel entitled to it," Wallentine said, "and when we ask them why do you feel entitled like you're entitled to $2500, $2700 per month for a fraudulent, fake disability, they say 'well, other people do it. Why not me? Other people get away with it. Why not me?' "
After denying 157 fraudulent claims in 2012, Wallentine said the investigations saved taxpayers close to $21 million.
"For every dollar it costs us to put an agent out in the field investigating these types of allegations, we bring back well over $10 more," he said.
If you suspect someone if filing false social security claims, you can call a fraud hotline at 1-800-269-0271. You can also report the suspected fraud online here.